Eating is a Ritual: Paying Attention to How and What We Eat
In nature’s eyes, all living beings have the right to exist. So whenever we eat, it is of utmost importance to reflect on what you intake and thank nature for the energy and nourishment to grow and survive.
Here are some things you should pay attention to when you eat:
Keeping check of ‘Ama’
In Ayurveda, ‘Ama’ is the term given to the toxins that accumulate in our body due to improperly digested food or in our minds due to improperly processed emotions. To keep check of toxins in the body, we must pay close attention to our morning excretion routine. There is Ama present if there is foul odor, abundant gas and a substantial coating on the tongue. Feces should be brown and discharged consistently, whereas urine should be pale yellow.
Knowing when to eat
We live in an age where eating is advertised as the sole companion of all our emotions. Our festivals and celebrations, our get togethers, our boredom, our sadness includes eating as a ceremonial right. This implies that we often eat when we are not truly hungry. Eating this way is not good for digestion and in turn not good for our body and mind. It takes three hours for our bodies to fully digest a meal. Therefore, we should only eat when our body demands it, instead of trying to satisfy the mind’s hunger with food.
Ideal surroundings for eating
Like every form of worship requires, we must first bathe and cleanse ourselves before taking our first meal. To please all senses while eating, we must clean the area we eat in and fill it with the fragrance of fresh flowers and soothing music.
During the day and night, we can wash our hands and feet (when possible) before eating.
Eating well prepared food
It is important to note that the way the food is being prepared and the intention behind it always affects the satisfaction you receive. A small amount of food presented with love will satisfy the soul whereas large heaps of food from a restaurant might fill the stomach but leaves the mind and spirit unsatisfied.
Practices to enhance digestion
The right nostril increases agni (digestive fire). Ensure its functioning by lying on your left side for a few minutes before your meal or by closing your left nostril with your right hand’s middle finger and breathing rhythmically through your right nostril for a few minutes. And the same for the other nostril.
Putting others before self
Before eating, we should make an offering to the sacred fire, a cow, a crow, a dog and another being who might be a child, a beggar or anyone outside the family as a way of gratitude to nature.
It is a good way of controlling ahamkara (the ego, I) and to remember that food is not intended for mere self gratification but for the greater good of all beings.
Awakening the taste buds
Ginger juice contains volatile oils that purifies the mouth while stimulating the production of saliva in order to aid digestion. Chewing ginger before a meal will refresh and awaken your taste buds.
Tip: Slice the ginger into long, thin strips and marinate it in lemon juice with a pinch of rock salt or sip on some ginger tea.
Paying attention to what we eat
We must pay attention to what we’re eating and chew each morsel slowly. Eating with our hands lets the skin send temperature and texture cues to the brain.
We can feed all five senses by eating food that is attractive to the eye, tasty, aromatic, and pleasing in texture and sound.